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Archive for Mother’s Day

TIP OF THE DAY: Fruit Pancakes & Maple Syrup Substitutes

Some people like to serve pancakes with a garnish of berries. But at The Mission restaurant in San Diego, a creative cook embedded the fruit in the pancake itself.

You can do it easily:

  • SLICE fresh berries in 1/4-inch pieces.
  • SPOON the pancake batter onto the griddle or pan.
  • ADD the sliced fruit while the batter sets. If you work quickly, you can add them in a circle; but random scatters are just as tasty.
  •  
    No berries? Use dried fruit (dried cherries, cranberries, raisins, etc) or dice any other fruit you have on hand (apples, bananas, pears, etc.).

    While the The Mission serves the pancakes with conventional maple syrup, consider these…
     
    ALTERNATIVES TO MAPLE SYRUP

  • Apple butter, bourbon butter, maple butter, strawberry butter or other compound butter
  • Fruit yogurt (you can mix jam or preserves into plain yogurt)
  • Honey
  • Jam, marmalade, preserves
  • Other syrup (berry syrup, brown rice syrup, cinnamon syrup [recipe below], molasses)
  • More fresh fruit
  • Plain yogurt, sour cream or mascarpone
  • Whipped cream or heavy cream
  •  
     
    For plain pancakes consider:

  • Applesauce or other puréed fruit
  • Dessert sauce (caramel, chocolate)
  • Fruit compote or sautéed fruit
  • Peanut butter or other nut butter
  •  
    You can also mix up a creative syrup; for example, honey with raisins, diced apples and/or chopped nuts.
     
     
    RECIPE: CINNAMON SYRUP

    This is delicious on French toast, pancakes and waffles; along with fruit salad, ice cream, un-iced cakes, etc.

    Ingredients

  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Splash of lemon juice
  •  
    Preparation

     

    Pancakes Embedded Fruit

    Sautéed Apple Pancakes

    Peanut Butter & Jelly Pancakes

    Fun with fruit, in and on your pancakes. Top: Embedded berries (photo courtesy The Mission restaurant | San Diego). Center: “Apple Pie Pancakes,” topped with sautéed apples (photo courtesy PotsAndPans.com). Bottom: Topped with peanut butter and jelly or preserves (photo courtesy Krusteaz).

     
    1. HEAT the water and the sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat until the liquid begins to boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for five minutes, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves.

    2. ADD the cinnamon and lemon juice, stir thoroughly, and let cool or serve warm.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Savory Chocolate Gazpacho

    Chocolate Gazpacho

    Chocolate Gazpacho

    Top: Savory chocolate gazpacho from Chef Mat Schuster. Bottom: Savory chocolate gazpacho with strawberries from GoodToKnow.co.uk. Here’s the recipe.

     

    Chef Mat Schuster of San Francisco’s Canela Bistro & Wine Bar offered us this Chocolate Gazpacho recipe, which we like for Valentine’s Day. It’s a savory chocolate counterpoint to all the sweet stuff.

    When most people think of savory chocolate dishes, Mexican mole comes to mind. You may have made a chili recipe with cocoa powder. It’s a popular ingredient in Mexican dishes.

    (And why not? Cacao cultivation was begun by the Olmecs, the first major civilization in Mexico, located in the present-day states of Veracruz and Tabasco; and furthered by the Mayas of the Yucatán Peninsula. When the Aztecs learned about cacao from the Mayas, they made it a drink for noble or wealthy Aztecs and their warrior heroes).

    If you’ve ever had an all-chocolate dinner (chocolate used in every dish), you know that it can be included in every course, from cacao nibs in the salad to cacao chèvre for the cheese course. Here are more examples, with the recipes available at Saveur.com.

  • Asado de Bodas, pork in red chile sauce with Mexican chocolate
  • Charred Cauliflower and Shishito Peppers with Picada* Sauce
  • Chocolate Barbecue Sauce
  • Cocoa-Rubbed Baby Back Ribs
  • Enchiladas in Chile Chocolate Sauce, with Mexican chocolate
  • Gascon-Style Beef Stew (Daube de Boeuf À la Gasconne), made with
    Armagnac, chocolate and Madiera wine
  • Triple Chocolate Beef & Bean Chili
  • Turkey in Mole Poblano
  • White Chocolate Baba Ghannouj
  •  
    RECIPE: SAVORY CHOCOLATE GAZPACHO

    Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened dark cocoa powder
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 small shallot, diced
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar (substitute red wine vinegar)
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup seedless or low-seed cucumber (Armenian, English,
    Persian, etc.), diced
  • ¼ cup bell pepper, diced
  • ½ cup to 1 cup cold water
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Garnishes: shaved chocolate (70% cacao to 100% cacao)
  • and/or croutons†

    Preparation

    1. PLACE all ingredients into a blender; blend until smooth.

    2. ADD enough water to make the consistency you prefer, but be sure not to dilute the flavor.

    3. TASTE, season with salt and pepper and chill the soup. Before serving, garnish as desired.
     
    WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT CHOCOLATE?

    Take a look at our Chocolate Glossary and other articles in THE NIBBLE’S Chocolate Section.

     
    _______________________
    *Picada is a Catalan-style pesto made with almonds, parsley and chocolate.

    †These can be American-style croutons—small squares—or French croutons/Italian crostini, slices of baguette or similar bread, grilled or toasted with olive oil, seasonings (herbs, spices, salt and pepper) and/or optional toppings (for this gazpacho recipe, try fresh goat cheese and chives). You can float it on top of the soup or serve it on the plate under the bowl.

     
      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Rose Pear Galette & The Different Types Of Pears

    Given the mark-up on roses for Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, you might want to bake your own roses. These lovely individual tarts are made from seasonal pears. (See the different types of pears below.)

    If you prefer an apple rose tartlet or a vegetable rose tart, take a look at these rose pastry recipes.
     
    RECIPE: ROSE PEAR GALETTE

    Treat yourself with this elegant and refined after-dinner delight from Adrianna Adarme of A Cozy Kitchen. It’s included in her book The Year of Cozy: 125 Recipes, Crafts, and Other Homemade Adventures.

    Prep time is 30 minutes, cook time is 20 to 25 minutes.

    Ingredients For 4 Individual Tarts
     
    For the Crust

  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons white granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, frozen
  • 4-8 tablespoons very cold water, divided
  • 1 large egg, beaten (for egg wash)
  • 1 tablespoon turbinado* sugar
  • Reynolds Wrap aluminum foil
  • Reynolds parchment paper
  •  
    For The Filling

  • 2 Bartlett pears, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon coffee grounds, finely ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  •  
    For Serving

  • Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream
  • ________________________________
    *Turbinado sugar is partially refined light brown cane sugar, similar to demerara sugar but with larger crystals. It is sold in bulk packages, and in packets as Sugar In The Raw. See the different types of sugar.
     
    Preparation

    1. MIX together the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Using a box grater, grate the cold butter atop the flour mixture. Working quickly and using your hands, break the butter bits into the flour until they’re evenly distributed and resemble the size of small peas.

       

    Pear Galette - Reynolds Kitchens

    The Year Of Cozy

    Bartlett Pear

    Top: Rose Pear Galette from A Cozy Kitchen | Reynolds Kitchens. Center: The Bosc pear used in this recipe, although you can substitute the varieties below. Bottom: The Year of Cozy: 125 Recipes, Crafts, and Other Homemade Adventures.

     
    2. ADD 4 tablespoons of water and mix. The mixture will be shaggy at this point. From here, add 1 tablespoon of water at a time until the dough comes together (generally about 3 additional tablespoons). Flour a work surface and dump the dough onto it. Knead a few times until it comes together. Form the dough into a disk. Wrap the disk in plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator to chill for at least 1 hour, or ideally overnight.

    3. MIX this filling together just before the dough is ready to be removed from the fridge: In a medium bowl, toss together the pear slices, brown sugar, cocoa powder, coffee grounds, vanilla extract and salt.

    4. REMOVE the disk of dough from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature for 10 minutes. Liberally flour a work surface and a rolling pin. Begin to roll the dough into a 16-inch round, being sure to rotate it every so often to avoid sticking. Using the bottom of a bowl or plate that measures about 6 inches in diameter, cut out 3 circles. Re-roll the scraps to get 1 additional circle.

    5. ARRANGE the pear slices neatly in a circular pattern in the center of each of the pie crust rounds, leaving about 1-1/2 inches clear at the edges. Fold over the edges to cover about 1/2 inch of the filling. Repeat with the remaining rounds. Transfer the galettes to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and place them in the freezer to chill for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400°F.

    6. BRUSH the pie crust edges with the egg wash and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Transfer to the oven to bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the edges are golden brown. Check on the galettes periodically. If at any time the crusts’ edges are getting too brown, take a piece of Reynolds Wrap® Aluminum Foil and tent over the edges. When the edges are golden brown, remove from the oven. Serve warm with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of your favorite vanilla ice cream.

     

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    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/forelle pear 230

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    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/seckel 230

    Some of America’s most popular pears. From
    top to bottom: Bosc, Comice, Forelle, Green
    Anjou, Seckel.

       

    A SEASONAL GUIDE TO PEAR TYPES

    Thanks to USA Pears for this background material.

    Fresh domestic pears are available year-round. Although each pear variety has its own unique properties, most can be substituted for each other in recipes.
     
    Bartlett Pears: August to February
    The Bartlett pear turns from bright green to golden yellow as it ripens. Very juicy and sweet, with aromatic flesh, it is used most for canning and for salads or desserts (photo above).
     
    Red Bartlett Pears: August to January
    The Red Bartlett turns bright red as it ripens and is similar in flavor and texture to the yellow Bartlett.
     
    Bosc Pears: September to April
    Bosc pears have long, tapered necks and skin that is naturally russet to a cinnamon brown. Dense, fragrant, and honey-sweet flesh with a texture that holds its shape when heated, the Bosc is a good choice for baking, poaching, grilling and roasting.
     
    Comice Pears: September to March
    Pronounced co-MEESE, these pears have a full, round shape with a short neck and stem. They are usually green, sometimes with a red blush. They are very succulent, with a custard-like texture and mellow sweetness. They are best as an eating pear and go well with cheese. They don’t hold up well in cooking.
     
    Concorde Pears: September to February
    The Concorde has a tall, elongated neck and firm, dense flesh, with skin that is golden green, usually with golden yellow russets. Its flavor has vanilla undertones and, like the Bosc, it has a firm texture that holds up well when baking, grilling or poaching. It is one of the newer varieties, introduced in the past 10 years.
     
    D’Anjou Pears: September to July
    Green D’Anjou pears, recognized by their egg-like shape, stay green when fully ripe. With moist, sweet and dense flesh, the D’Anjou is excellent for snacking or baking.
     
    Red D’Anjou Pears: September to May
    Sweet and succulent when ripe, red D’Anjou pears are similar to their green counterparts. The red skin is a colorful addition to salads, desserts and main dishes.
     
    Forelle Pears: October to March
    The Forelle, known for its smaller size and unique yellow-green skin, is tasty sweet with a crisp texture even when ripe. Ideal for kids’ lunches and baked desserts.
     
    Seckel Pears: September to February
    Seckel pears are another small variety, recognized by their maroon skin, with olive-green coloring. With their crunchy flesh and ultra-sweet flavor, they are great for snacks, pickling or garnishing.
     
    Starkrimson Pears: August to January
    Another new variety introduced within the past 10 years, Starkrimson pears have a brilliant crimson red skin and a thick, stocky stem. Juicy and sweet, they have smooth flesh and a distinct floral aroma.
     
    MORE DELICIOUS PEAR DESSERTS

  • Pears Hélène
  • Poached Pears
  •  

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Chocolate Pancakes

    Valentine’s Day falls on Sunday this year, a day of the week when many of us have some extra time to make pancakes.

    What pancakes do you make for Valentine’s Day? Chocolate pancakes, of course! They can be the focus of breakfast or brunch, or served as dessert in smaller portions.

    Two recipes follow: All-Chocolate Pancakes and Dark Chocolate Raspberry Pancakes, which are regular pancakes packed with chocolate chunks.

    You can make either recipe with all-purpose flour, or use half all-purpose and half whole wheat flour for more nutrition and an added flavor element. But first:

    Not into chocolate? Make these Red Velvet Pancakes.
     
    SOME PANCAKE HISTORY

    People have been eating pancake-like foods for a very long time. According to Alan Davidson in the Oxford Companion to Food, the first mention of anything other than bread baked on a griddle is the oldest surviving cookbook, De Re Coquinaria (“On Cookery) by Apicius*.

    The book describes “cakes” made from a batter of eggs, milk, water and flour. They were fried and served with honey and pepper.

    Here’s more on the history of pancakes.

    RECIPE #1: CHOCOLATE PANCAKES

    This recipe was developed by Foodie Crush for GoBoldWithButter.com.

    Ingredients For 8-10 Pancakes

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup whole wheat flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1-1/4 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Additional butter, for serving
  • Maple syrup, for serving
  •  
    Preparation

    1. WHISK the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl. In a small bowl, mix the wet ingredients together until combined.

    2. ADD the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Set the mixture aside to rest for 10 minutes.

     

    Chocolate Pancakes

    Chocolate Pancakes

    Red Velvet Pancakes

    Top: Chocolate pancakes by Foodie Crush for GoBoldWithButter.com. Center: Dark Chocolate Raspberry Pancakes made with a heart pancake mold, from The Baker Chick. Bottom: Don’t like chocolate? Make these Red Velvet Pancakes from Taste Of Home.

     
    3. PREHEAT a nonstick griddle to 325°F and cook the pancakes in batches. Keep them warm by placing a cooling rack atop a cookie sheet in a 250°F oven, until ready to serve.

     

    Ice Cream Pancakes

    Nutella Pancakes

    Dessert pancakes. Top: With ice cream or
    whipped cream and chocolate sauce. Photo
    by Robyn Mackenzie | Fotolia. Bottom: Add
    some Nutella. Photo by Dusan Zidar |
    Fotolia.

     

    RECIPE #2: DARK CHOCOLATE RASPBERRY PANCAKES

    The Baker Chick used heart-shape pancake molds for a special presentation.

    You can also use the molds to fry eggs, shape burgers, etc.

    Ingredients For 6-8 Pancakes

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (or 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour and 1/2 all-purpose)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chunks or finely chopped dark chocolate
  • 4 ounces fresh or frozen raspberries
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup (more if you like)
  • Optional: pats of butter
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT a griddle or skillet over medium-low heat.

    2. WHISK together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the oil, egg and buttermilk, and whisk together until thoroughly combined, adding a splash more buttermilk if the batter is too thick. Fold in the chocolate chunks.

    3. SPRAY or butter the skillet and pour in the batter. When bubbles form and pop in the batter, carefully flip each pancake, cooking until golden and baked through.

    4. MAKE the syrup: Mash the raspberries with a fork and blend with the syrup. Warm it to your liking.

    5. TOP the pancakes with butter and syrup and serve.

     
    PANCAKE TIPS

  • Have leftover pancakes? Reheat them by toasting them in a toaster oven. The outsides get nice and crispy. In our book, they’re even better than the original batch.
  • Pancake varieties: Check out the different types of pancakes.
  • Syrup: There are 14 different types of syrup—not flavors, but types. See them in our Glossary of Sugars, Syrups & Other Sweeteners.
  • Pancake mixes: Here are our favorite multigrain and whole grain pancake mixes.
  •  
    *“Apicius” is believed to be the pseudonym of one or several writers who authored the book. The manuscript of some 400 recipes is believed to have been compiled in the late 4th or early 5th century C.E. Why the name Apicius? It had long been associated with gourmet preferences, named after Marcus Gavius Apicius, a wealthy Roman merchant and epicure who lived in the 1st century C.E. He is said to have once sailed all the way to Libya to eat some much-praised prawns, only to return home without having found any to his satisfaction. He hosted colossal banquets, which eventually drove him to bankruptcy…and suicide.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Valentine Cocktails Or Mocktails

    Some people think a Valentine’s Day cocktail should be rose red. Others think it should be chocolate. Still others want to drink pink.

    Here, we offer chocolate, coffee, red and pink Valentine cocktails for your consideration. If you’re having a party, choose several.

    Mocktail options follow.

    VALENTINE COCKTAIL DRINKS

  • Amore Espresso Cocktail Recipe
  • Bright Red Cocktail Recipes (including the Lovecicle)
  • Chocolate Basil Martini Recipe
  • Five Chocolate Cocktail Recipes (including the Hot Lips Chocolatini)
  • Love Nectar Recipe (red, with tequila, cider, red grapes)
  • Love Potion Recipe (bright red)
  • Passionfruit Tequila “Besame” (Kiss Me) Recipe (bright red)
  • Pink Cocktail Recipes (including Cupid’s Cosmo)
  • Pomegranate Martini Recipe (deep pink with red arils)
  • Pomegranate Refresher Recipe (pale pink with red arils)
  • The Right Kiss Gin Cocktail Recipe (deep red)
  • Rose Cocktail Recipes (pink, with rose simple syrup)
  • Secret Crush Champagne Cocktail Recipe (red)
  •    

    Valentine Champagne Cocktail

    Rosy and delicious: the Secret Crush “Champagne” cocktail made with Prosecco and grenadine. Photo courtesy Macao Trading Co.

     

    VALENTINE MOCKTAIL INGREDIENTS

    To make a Valentine-red mocktail, you need to use either a red base (blood orange juice, cranberry juice, cherry or raspberry soda) or a red-colored flavor such as grenadine or strawberry purée)—or both.

    Blend the juice and soda in proportions you prefer. If it isn’t red enough, add one of the red-colored flavors. Taste, add some citrus juice to pick up the flavor, and select a garnish.

     

    Valentine Cocktail

    The Pomegranate Refresher can be made
    with tequila, or as a mocktail with regular or
    diet 7-UP or Sprite.

     

    Juice

  • Blood orange juice
  • Cranberry juice
  • Pink lemonade
  •  
    Soda Pop

  • Cherry Soda
  • Club Soda
  • Ginger ale or ginger beer
  • Raspberry Soda
  •  
    Red-Colored Flavors

  • Grenadine
  • Pomegranate syrup
  • Raspberry syrup
  • Strawberry or raspberry purée
  •  
    Flavor Accent

  • Bitters
  • Citrus juice: grapefruit lemon, lime
  •  
    Garnish

  • Fruit: blood orange wheel, notched strawberry, pomegranate arils, raspberry pick
  • Herbs: fresh mint, opal (purple) basil
  •  
    Plus

  • Ice
  • Optional: red straws
  •   

    Comments

    VALENTINE’S DAY: Sparkling Wines For Gifting & Drinking

    Brachetto d'Acqui Banfi

    Banfi Rosa Regale Brachetto d’Acqui: a wine that says “Be My Valentine.”

     

    If you’ve taken a look at Champagne prices, you’d like a recommendation on which way to go.

    Our recommendation: Steer away from Champagne and look at other sparkling wines. Here are two of our favorite affordable bubblies for Valentine’s Day. Both are crowd pleasers. One is a perfect dessert wine or an apéritif; the other can be enjoyed anytime, with any course.

    Drink them yourself or give them as gifts. As with all sparkling wines, serve them chilled.
     
    BANFI ROSA REGALE BRACHETTO D’ACQUI

    This sweet sparkling wine from the Piedmont region of Italy is a vivid rose red. The color is natural!

    It’s made from the Brachetto df’Acqui grape, which grows in the area of Acqui Terme in rocky, calcareous soil (tough soil makes better wines).

     
    The bouquet is very aromatic, with hints of raspberries, strawberries and rose petals. You’ll taste hints of fresh raspberries, with crisp acidity.

    In addition to dessert—cakes, tarts, ice cream—it pairs well with seafood, cheeses, spicy fare and yes, that box of Valentine chocolate.

    One of our friends calls this wine “love at first sip.” It’s pretty romantic stuff.

    The price: $17-$20 per bottle. The pronunciation: bra-KET-toe d’AH-qwee.

    There’s more on the brand’s web page.
     
    YELLOWTAIL BUBBLES SPARKLING ROSÉ

    A recent Top Pick Of The Week for the holidays, this sparkling wine from Australia makes everything more festive—at just $10-$11 per bottle. It’s not a sweet wine, but crisp and refreshing, so it can be paired with anything.

    The fragrant nose promises cherries and strawberries on the palate. Unlike the deep red of Brachetto d’Acqui, it’s a pale pink color, similar to a rosé Champagne.

    Depending on the retailer and promotion calendar, the bottle may come with a resealable, plastic cap that allows you to seal in the bubbles for the next day. If not, and if you don’t have one, pick up a Champagne resealer. It’s inexpensive, and really does keep that wine sparkling for days.

    And it can be the part of the gift that remains, when the wine is long gone.

    Here’s our full review of the wine.

    And here’s the Yellowtail Bubbles Rosé web page.

     
      

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Blossom Water

    For two years we’ve had our eye on Blossom Water, an innovative beverage in a crowded field that has not yet gotten the distribution we think it deserves. We keep checking the store locator, hoping for something near us.

    We drink it at the trade show where we first discovered it; and we do buy it online. A 4-bottle package that’s $12.00 has a shipping cost of $4.95.

    And we think it’s worth it. But we want to drink so much Blossom Water, that the shipping charges quickly add up. (Blossom Water folks: Can you put the product on Amazon so we can at least use Amazon Prime?)

    Perhaps by publishing a rave review, some retailers will take notice. So here it is:

    WHY DO WE LOVE BLOSSOM WATER?

    The flavors are perfectly blended:

  • Grapefruit Lilac
  • Lemon Rose
  • Plum Jasmine
  • Pomegranate Geranium
  •    

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    Lemon Rose Blossom Water. Photo courtesy Blossom Water.

     
    We have particular favorites, but every palate is different so please try them all.

    The flavors taste exactly as they sound: like a delicious sip of nature. We love each flavor as is, so we haven’t considered adding gin, which itself is made with botanicals that would complement those in Blossom Water.

    We’ll get around to it; but for 45 calories for an entire bottle of heaven, we’re not in a rush to add more calories.

     

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    Grapefruit Lilac Blossom Water. Photo courtesy Blossom Water.

     

    The delicately nuanced flavors are refreshing for every day drinking and for special occasions, including lawn parties, showers and weddings, holidays like Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day.

    The beautifully-designed bottles are also ready to serve as party favors.

    OK, men: You think it’s a chick product. But it’s a beverage for anyone whose palate seeks exciting new flavors.

    The only solution: Taste it for yourself.

    Discover more at DrinkBlossomWater.com, and ask your specialty store manager or supermarket beverage manager to bring some in. They, too, will never know until they try.

     

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Summer Caprese Salad With Flowers

    We saw this photo on GourmetAttitude.com and thought: We must make this!

    It’s a miniaturized Caprese Salad, with these substitutions:

  • Bite-size mozzarella balls instead of sliced mozzarella
  • Cherry and/or grape tomatoes instead of sliced beefsteak tomatoes
  • Baby basil leaves instead of large leaves
  • A garnish of edible, summery flowers
  •  
    It’s a beautiful summer salad; and since good cherry tomatoes can be found year-round, it’s also a treat for Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day.

    For more food fun, you can serve the salad in individual Martini glasses.

    RECIPE: SUMMER SALAD WITH FLOWERS

    Ingredients

  • Bocconcini, bite-size mozzarella balls, or the tinier pearl-size perlini
  • Cherry tomatoes, ideally heirloom in an array of colors
  •  

    cherry-tomato-mozz-flower-salad-gourmetattitude-230

    We call this salad “Flower Power.” Photo courtesy GourmetAttitude.com.

  • Optional: yellow grape tomatoes for contrast
  • Small basil leaves (if you can’t find any, make a chiffonade of regular leaves)
  • Edible flowers (more information)
  • Good olive oil (infused olive oil—basil, rosemary, etc.—is great)
  • Vinegar, lemon or lime juice (we like balsamic, but anything works)
  •  

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    Cacio di Roma. Photo courtesy Cheese Of The Month Club.

     

    Preparation

    You can dress the salad in oil and vinegar, allow guests to pour their own from cruets, or drizzle olive oil and vinegar on the plate before adding the salad, and allow guests to “swoosh” the tomatoes in it.

    1. TOSS the tomatoes with a small amount of salt. Combine in a mixing bowl with the drained bocconcini and herbs.

    2. SERVE on a platter or shallow glass bowl or on individual plates.
     
    WHAT IS CACIO CHEESE?

    Formally called Cacio de Roma, cacio is a semi-soft Italian cheese originally made in the countryside outside of Rome from sheep’s milk. Cacio simply means cheese in some dialects (formaggio is the word used universally in Italy).

     
    The cheese—not readily found in the U.S.—is made in small rounds called caciotta and aged for about one month. It is a classic sheep’s milk cheese. Like mozzarella, made from the milk of cows or water buffalo, it melts very well for cooking and is enjoyed as a snack, with pasta, pizza and salad.
     
    SOME CAPRESE SALAD HISTORY

    Like most recipes, Caprese salad has evolved.

    The original name originated on the island of Capri, on the south side of the Gulf of Naples in the Campania region of Italy. The island has been a resort since Roman Times.

    But Caprese Salad is a more modern invention, dating (by name, anyway) to the early 20th century. The original salad was made with four ingredients: cacio cheese, beefsteak-type tomatoes called cuore di bue (steer’s heart), whole basil leaves and olive oil.

    Later, possibly after World War II when American tourists ventured to Capri (it was a Jet Set favorite), sliced mozzarella (fior di latte or bufala) replaced cacio and the recipe spread throughout Italy and overseas with the tourists who loved it.

    In classic style, slices of mozzarella and tomatoes plus the basil leaves were overlapped on a plate, drizzled with olive oil.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Bake A Special Coffee Cake

    Many of us would love a delicious piece of coffee cake with our morning coffee—or to serve to Dad on Father’s Day.

    If you can find an artisan-baked coffee cake in your area, great. We live in a big city where the rents are so high that the beloved neighborhood mom and pop bakery is largely a thing of the past.

    So the only solution: Order by mail (check out this terrific povitica, an Eastern European coffee cake) or bake your own.

    But first….

    WHAT IS COFFEE CAKE?

    Coffee cake is a yeast-leavened cake that is typically served at breakfast or as a snack with coffee or tea. It is often glazed with a white confectioner’s sugar icing or topped with streusel. The latter is also called crumb cake.

    Coffee cake can contain raisins, nuts, other dried fruits and/or chocolate chunks. Most are flavored with cinnamon. More elaborate recipes incorporate cream cheese, jam or fruit curd.

    According to FoodTimeline.org, food historians generally agree that the tradition of eating sweet cakes with coffee likely originated in northern or central Europe in the 17th century, when coffee was introduced (see the history of coffee).

       

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    A coffee cake inspired by the blueberry muffin. Photo courtesy The Baker Chick.

     
    These areas already had sweet yeast breads, a natural accompaniment that evolved into “coffee cake” The made with flour, eggs, sugar, yeast, nuts, dried fruit and spices.

    German, Dutch and Scandinavian immigrants brought the recipes with them to America. Over time, coffee cake recipes evolved to contain sugared fruit; cream cheese, yogurt and other creamy fillings; streusel and other toppings.

    See the different types of cake in our Cake Glossary.

     

    cinnamon-roll-cake-thebakerchick-230r

    The “cinnamon roll” coffee cake. Photo courtesy The Baker Chick.

     

    There are many great coffee cake recipes out there. If you don’t have one, ask family and friends if they have a favorite before heading to recipe websites.

    For an inspired coffee cake recipe, we looked to Audra Fullerton, a.k.a The Baker Chick, the writer, recipe developer and photographer for this blog. We’re big fans.

    The “Blueberry Muffin” Coffee Cake

    The first coffee cake from Audra, photo above, is a blueberry muffin recipe baked as a cake, with an extra brown sugar topping. It’s not a yeast cake but is super moist, with plump blueberries in every bite.

    It takes all of 10 minutes to mix, and 40 minutes in the oven. How can you resist?

    Here’s the recipe.

     
    The “Cinnamon Bun” Coffee Cake

    The second recommendation is a jumbo cinnamon roll, the size of a cake.

     

    Instead of rolling and cutting the dough into individual rolls, you cut the dough into strips and attach them one by one until a monster cinnamon roll is achieved.

    It’s more time consuming than the blueberry coffee cake, but isn’t that “wow” factor worth 1 hour and 15 minutes of your time to assemble?

    After that, in just 20 minutes in the oven you have a warm, fragrant, gooey 9-inch “coffee cake.”

    Here’s the recipe.
     
    MORE BREAKFAST CAKE OPTIONS

    Special enough for Father’s Day: this Apple Streusel Bundt Cake.

    Also for your consideration: a Hummingbird Coffee Cake, a Southern tradition.

      

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    FOOD FUN: Bacon Rose Bouquet Recipe

    Mom gets flowers for Mother’s Day; perhaps Dad would prefer a bacon bouquet. It’s easy to make 12 long-stemmed bacon roses.

    Here’s a video from the National Pork Board that shows how to make bacon roses.
     
    RECIPE: BACON ROSES

    Ingredients For 12 Bacon Roses

  • 12 strips of bacon
  • 24 toothpicks
  • 12 stems from plastic roses*
  • Glass vase (or pitcher)
  • Optional: red ribbon
  •  
    *Get 12 fabric or plastic roses on plastic stems from the craft store. You have to remove the flowers, but typically, they snap off so you can wash the stems and use them again. After you remove the flower, wash the top of the stem before adding the bacon roses.

     

    bacon-bouquet-porkbeinspired-230

    It’s easy to make this tasty bacon rose bouquet. Find more recipes at PorkBeInspired.com.

     
    Preparation

    1. UNWRAP the bacon and gently separate the slices. Roll each into a bacon rosebud.

    2. INSERT two toothpicks to hold each bud in place. Place the buds on a wire rack over a pan and bake at 400°F for 25-35 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

    3. MOUNT a bacon bud at the top of each stem and place the stems into a vase. Tie the ribbon around the vase. Present to the happy dad.

     
    ALTERNATIVE: SEND A JERKY BOUQUET

    A turnkey alternative to making bacon roses is to send a delicious beef jerky bouquet—12 long-stemmed pieces of jerky—from GaryWest.com.

    Wrapped decoratively in red tissue and delivered in a traditional flower box, the steak bouquet is $42.00, with a choice of flavors: Traditional, Black Pepper Cajun and Teriyaki.

      

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